Do rollermats help keep nitrate/phosphate down?

BRS
OP
oregongrownreef

oregongrownreef

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Sep 6, 2019
Messages
472
Reaction score
647
Location
Salem
Freshwater fish excrete most of their nitrogen as ammonia from the gills. I think saltwater fish are the same but I'm not 100% sure. If you don't have a lot of uneaten food then most nitrogen is going to be coming from the gills and not affected by mechanical filtration.

The Hirayama paper on waste accumulation found that there wasn't much of a relationship between filter flushing interval and nitrate levels:

hirayama nitrate.png


But there were differences in DOC which inhibit growth at levels ~125X lower than nitrate:

2020-08-12 18_10_33-hirayama1988.pdf - Adobe Acrobat Pro DC.png
When I did my water change yesterday, the water that I took out from the display (my detritus settled in the sump before rollermat installation, so that water was obviously discolored), it was COMPLETELY clear. The clarisea rollermat polishes the water to an astonishing degree. Absolutely 0 discoloration.
 
AS
OP
oregongrownreef

oregongrownreef

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Sep 6, 2019
Messages
472
Reaction score
647
Location
Salem
Okay, so I tested my alkalinity, phosphate and nitrate tonight after doing a 25-30% water change yesterday.

Alkalinity: 8.1 dKh (Hanna dKh checker)
Nitrate: 16-20ppm (Red Sea Nitrate Pro Test Kit)
Phopsphate: 0.086 ppm (Hanna Low Range Phosphorus Checker)

I feed Rod's/LRS a minimum of 2x per day during week days and upwards of 3x on weekends. I will update these numbers in 2 weeks.

Another thing to keep in mind is that I'm using a Bubble Magus NAC3.5 protein skimmer. This is by far, hands down, the best skimmer you could get for a smaller tank. It is so simple and it just works. I'd give it a 10 out of 5. I try to skim dry, but since installing the filter roller, the skimmate has been MUCH lighter in color.
 

Belgian Anthias

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Oct 31, 2017
Messages
1,094
Reaction score
521
Location
Aarschot Belgium
What is important?

What is most threatening to corals, the presence of inorganic nutrients, or the presence of a high DOC level?

Mechanical filters remove POC, particulate organic compounds, but are producers of DOC, dissolved organic matter,
It all depends on the retention time of the organic waste in the water column. The time needed to export POC out of the system.
Anyway, any amount of POC removed will limit the remineralization capacity, limit nitrate, phosphate, and all other essential inorganic building materials availability. An effective remineralization rate keeps the presence of DOC very low.
A mechanical filter may turn into an effective biofilter.

Does such a system what may be expected, export POC?
 
OP
oregongrownreef

oregongrownreef

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Sep 6, 2019
Messages
472
Reaction score
647
Location
Salem
Today is the day for the testing update. Just in time too, since I'm getting a new dosing pump and will be starting kalkwasser dosing. As soon as I get it done tonight, I'll post here.

Edit: I feel that I may have to redo the experiment too. My skimmer has 2 legs that elevate it so the pump can sit underneath. Awhile back the acrylic separated, but I repaired it with epoxy. The epoxy only lasted about a month, so I had to wait for weld-on 4 to get here and the solvent to fully cure. It's been running without a skimmer for 9-10 days.
 
Last edited:
Zoanthids
OP
oregongrownreef

oregongrownreef

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Sep 6, 2019
Messages
472
Reaction score
647
Location
Salem
Sorry for the lack of an update. The day I posted last on this thread, I got attacked by a dog at work. I didn't feel like doing testing that night. I recently emptied the sump so I could remove it and replace the outlet behind the tank because the connections were loose. I will say one thing, my water has never been clearer. I still haven't tested the nutrient levels, but this was the color of the water after 3-4 weeks of no water change. This is amazing to me because it means I don't need to run carbon as often (if at all) to clean up the water for light penetration. Since I emptied my sump, I was able to remove all of the detritus that I couldn't get to before I installed the filter roller. I don't know if I could ever have a tank without one of these now...
20210404_094022.jpg
 

mdb_talon

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Dec 6, 2010
Messages
1,783
Reaction score
2,597
Location
Illinois
Haha you are making me want one of these! My nutrients are fine, but i feed very heavy so switch out socks everyday to keep it that way. Maybe one of these would allow me to not have nutrient spikes every vacation .
 
OP
oregongrownreef

oregongrownreef

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Sep 6, 2019
Messages
472
Reaction score
647
Location
Salem
Haha you are making me want one of these! My nutrients are fine, but i feed very heavy so switch out socks everyday to keep it that way. Maybe one of these would allow me to not have nutrient spikes every vacation .
If you're already running filter socks, I would 1000% recommend one. You get all of the benefits of a filter sock, except you never have to change it out. Plus, it filters it down to 50 microns. What's not to love?
 
OP
oregongrownreef

oregongrownreef

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Sep 6, 2019
Messages
472
Reaction score
647
Location
Salem
Okay, so a surprising update here. I tested the phosphate today after doing a 30% water change on 04/04/21 (a week ago). It was at .07ppm! That's actually amazing to me considering that's a total of 6+ weeks with only 1 30% water change. I'll look at testing the nitrate later tonight and updating here.
 
OP
oregongrownreef

oregongrownreef

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Sep 6, 2019
Messages
472
Reaction score
647
Location
Salem
Okay...so a couple of days late. I do NOT like the nitrate test kits available right now for hobbyists. I'm currently using a Red Sea nitrate test. I have nitrates higher than 4, so this test is a joke to me. I currently have around 16-25ish nitrate. It's hard to tell if it's any different from last time. It's basically the same shade of pink. That's amazing news though!

With the information I've gleamed from my tests, rollermats are absolutely incredible. If I can go this long with doing only one water change on a tank that doesn't have a fuge, I can 100% contribute it to being because of the rollermat. The skimmer is up and running again, so that will maybe help keep nutrients down

I may resort to carbon dosing. It seems that my nutrients are at a level that carbon dosing alone can get me to a metaphorical sweet spot. I don't need a ULN tank. I'd just like to see nitrates just below 10 and phosphates just below 0.05.

I think I'm going to send off an icp test in a couple of months to see where things are at after a few months of running the rollermat. While I hate the thought of paying for the nutrient icp test from triton, it will help me get an idea of how my normal everyday test is performing.
 
OP
oregongrownreef

oregongrownreef

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Sep 6, 2019
Messages
472
Reaction score
647
Location
Salem
Some more proof (imo) that the rollermat is helping. I tested my tank a couple of times these last few weeks for phosphate and something interesting happened. My phosphate rose after a week or so of no water changes to 0.1 I did a 40% water change about a week ago, which should have lowered it to 0.06. I just checked the phosphate again today and it dropped to 0.03! So somewhere along the line that got used up. I feed very heavily, so if the uneaten food and fish poop hadn't been removed, it definitely should have been higher and continued to rise even after a water change.

I tested nitrates today too, and it's still between 16-20.

While it's not exact science, this is proof enough to me that it's doing something. I'd easily recommend a rollermat to anyone using/wanting to use filter socks. I never changed out my filter socks regularly enough, so this is a breath of fresh air.
 

green behind the ears

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jan 15, 2021
Messages
36
Reaction score
47
Location
london
Okay. Here's a few random questions from someone considering a roller mat.

I was given to understand that roller mats work on a principal that when the water level in the unit rises a certain amount due to accumulation of whatever in the filter mat, the roller turns to add fresh filter media and remove the "clogged" media. Is this correct?

If so, how much time is the mat in the water? Is one section exposed to the water for a day, an hour? Does it depend on the nutrient import/export? Will one system go through more media than another?

From what I've seen, it looks like there could be a certain amount of unfiltered water that can get around the mat. Is this something to consider?
I think your correct , it does a good job but it does look as thou a certain amount of water bypasses the filter
 

N3mo

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Apr 16, 2021
Messages
202
Reaction score
429
Location
South Africa
I love having a filter roller.

I feed 4 times a day frozen and nori, so it really keeps the uneaten food, waste , slime out of the water so that it doesnt get broken down into nutrients. I do got through a new roller every 6 weeks but thats also because there is always food been added to water.

Yes you could achieve the same result with filter socks if you change the sock daily, but consider the socks you need, washing them and the headache of remembering to change them.

Filter roller is a winner for me..
 
Maxout

Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
View Badges
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
43,889
Reaction score
32,584
Location
Arlington, Massachusetts, United States
My phosphate rose after a week or so of no water changes to 0.1 I did a 40% water change about a week ago, which should have lowered it to 0.06.

Just a thought on this comment...Water changes do not typically drop phosphate as much as expected, due to the substantial reservoir attached to rock and sand. So a 100% change will leave a lot of phosphate in the water.

The same is not true for nitrate. It drops as expected from a water change.
 
OP
oregongrownreef

oregongrownreef

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Sep 6, 2019
Messages
472
Reaction score
647
Location
Salem
Just a thought on this comment...Water changes do not typically drop phosphate as much as expected, due to the substantial reservoir attached to rock and sand. So a 100% change will leave a lot of phosphate in the water.

The same is not true for nitrate. It drops as expected from a water change.
Interesting! What could have caused the substantial drop then? The rock has been in the tank for about 6 months. It started out as dry. Could it still be soaking up phosphates?
 

KimG

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 30, 2019
Messages
200
Reaction score
243
How much it will help will probably depend more on how you feed your animals. As mentioned before, fish excrete most of the nitrate as ammonia (also salt water fish). If you feed your fish carefully and they eat all the feed, rollermats (and skimmers for that matter) are very inefficient at removing Nitrate as its mostly dissolved. Phosphate on the other end is mostly excrete as faeces, so rollermats should help.

If on the other hand, you feed like a "maniac" without stopping pumps and a lot of the feed is left uneaten, than a rollermat could definitely help.
In other words, how much it help may be more up to your husbandry technics rather then the technology ;).
Having said that, I think they are a great tool in the hobby.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
View Badges
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
43,889
Reaction score
32,584
Location
Arlington, Massachusetts, United States
Interesting! What could have caused the substantial drop then? The rock has been in the tank for about 6 months. It started out as dry. Could it still be soaking up phosphates?

Many things, including test error. Few methods we use can accurately identify a 0.04 ppm drop since it requires 2 measurements, each with an error range associated with it.
 
OP
oregongrownreef

oregongrownreef

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Sep 6, 2019
Messages
472
Reaction score
647
Location
Salem
Many things, including test error. Few methods we use can accurately identify a 0.04 ppm drop since it requires 2 measurements, each with an error range associated with it.
I just got a triton icp test with the following results: https://www.triton-lab.de/en/showroom/icp-oes/127371

I noticed some burnt tips recently, so I did a couple of water changes and sent in a test. There's slightly elevated levels of tin and aluminum. I looked around and could only think of 1 possible source of contaminant. I found a plastic clamp I use to hold the rodi line in the brute that had a rusted spring. It's possible that's where it came from. I'm going to do a couple of 40% water changes (20 gallons), and see if that helps with the heavy metals. It was obviously higher since I had done a couple of water changes not long ago, so that very well could have caused the burnt tips.

Phosphate is lower than what I was testing at. I've read that phosphate precipitates out when dosing kalkwasser. My tank has been using up more lately, so I'm wondering if the kalk has something to do with the low numbers.
 
https://www.youtube.com/c/ReefStache
Buckeye
Top